A Long December (For a Long Year)

While not usually in the habit of the “yearly reflection”, I guess 2020 was certainly a year to warrant it. So here it is, a reflection written at the end of an extremely long December, after a year where time acquired a certain elasticity, making it simultaneously both grindingly slow and fast.

This elasticity of time has certainly felt like the hallmark of the year for me: professionally, January to June were spent in a transition period between leaving Specle and joining Char.gy.

Leaving a company after 5 years spent fighting tooth and nail for its growth and survival at CTO level is never an easy transition - doing it while the world went haywire somehow made it feel more stressful. Saying goodbye over a Slack call isn’t the closure I’d have hoped for, but it was the possible one. Time went slow, then went really fast.

I decided not to take time off between jobs since “well, we are in lockdown anyway, whats the point?”. This turned out to be a mistake. As many of you certainly felt, the transition to working in a family environment during the (several) lockdowns was brutal.

This is my sixth year of full time remote and I have never been so exhausted by it: coordinating two adults taking calls and meetings, a 7 year old with now a full schedule of calls and meetings, and trying not to leave a 2 year old left to his own devices entirely is just something we were not prepared for.

We did manage to take a small break and go away a couple of days in the summer. It helped, but nowhere near enough to break free from the fatigue of confinement. At least, we had those days - and those memories - and that is both incredibly fortunate and good.

Another theme that kept recurring along the year was exactly that: of being fortunate that we have the jobs we have, and that our family is safe and doing well in the face of such adversity.

What was for us a year that ground along in its roller coaster of fast and slow, was mostly just tiring. Not devastating, not marked by permanent loss - just tiring. For that I am again humbled and thankful. Wish we could all say the same.

Somewhere around July, I decided to bring this site back online and attempt to write a bit. I started doing weekly notes, but fell off the wagon rather quick. I am hoping to do better next year, perhaps not trying to keep to weekly updates, but doing monthly instead (much like Hugo recommended to me on Twitter).

I did manage to get started streaming on Twitch, which was a goal for the year. And… I managed to fall off that wagon as well. Mostly, I stopped streaming when I started to feel the first warning signs of burn out in November.

Streaming is something I very much enjoy - more than I thought I would, to be honest. But what started as a way to do work on side projects, ended up being an excuse to start more side projects instead of actually finishing anything. So, I’ll need to reflect on what I want to get from it and how it should fit in to the puzzle.

I am also very thankful to everyone that follow me on Twitch and show their support. I was in no way expecting that 24 (24!) people would have any interest in watching me write some code on stream. Thank you all!

That being said, at this point, I am still in protective mode. Avoiding anything that adds pressure and involves sitting in front of the computer, and spending as much time with my family as possible.

I am not making any grand plans, goals or designs for the coming year. Like all of us, I deeply want a return to more familiar life, but most of all I simply wish for all be safe and well. Writing, streaming and side projects will all have their place I am sure, but I am not rushing anything.

It has felt good to sit here and talk a little - or ramble alot - about this year. Let’s see what the new one has in store.

Wishes of an Happy 2021 to us all!